Nikki Valdez remembers an interview she had in 1997 when she was launched under Star Circle Batch 4. She was then asked how she envisions herself in the next 10 years and her reply was about growing old in the industry. Twenty-five years later, she’s still here, under the very same talent management that birthed her star.
In this episode of Kapamilya Chat, Nikki brings to mind her first-ever audition, what it was like being a newbie during her time, and the people who’ve been with her since day 1 to year 25 of her ‘artista’ journey.
Nikki talked about the recent Star Magical Christmas Ball where she was recognized as one of the six Star Magic Loyalty Awardees. It was an emotional night for her as she was reminded of the people she’s been with for the past 25 years.
She said that although she really aimed for longevity, thinking of veteran actress Gloria Romero when she spoke in that specific 1997 interview, she had no timetable in mind. She just went through it one day at a time.
Admittedly, there are times reality would fail to meet her expectations. It hurt and almost made her want to quit. Luckily, she has had a solid support system. And over the years, she has proven that the right things will always come. She’d just have to be patient. “Alam mo, hangga’t hindi ka naka-fetal position, ‘yung parang fetus na nakabaluktot ka na, there is always hope in the days, months, years in your life,” her mom would often tell her.
Twenty-five years and she never lost sight of her humble beginnings. In fact, she uses her experience to inspire others and keep herself grounded.
The struggle to commute every day, for instance, taught her tenacity. “I take the bus with all my six luggage. Kasama ko ‘yung Nanay ko. I take the cab. Hindi ko talaga makakalimutan ‘yun. Up to these days, I will always look back and be grateful for those days na wala akong masakyan, inaabot ako ng gabi sa kalye, because that’s what made me who I am right now,” she noted it’s easier nowadays to just book a car going home.
She realized that her dreams, or anyone’s dreams, are never meant to be easy. There is no guarantee in life. But, patience will make a difference in dealing with the process. “If you just learn to accept and go with the flow, it will happen naturally,” she pressed that rushing things would only sabotage one’s peace and happiness.
But don’t make excuses, either. And, according to Nikki, it pays to always give your best. “Wala talagang maliit na role sa akin, minsang kahit wala pang dialogue. Pero ‘pag ginawa mo ‘yung best mo, may shot ka,” she smiled.
In addition to that, having the right mentors made a difference in her career. She said it’s because she has respect for these people that she was careful not to hurt or disappoint them.
One of her ‘tatay-tatayan’ in showbiz is Johnny Manahan or Mr. M. “I will never forget Mr. M and I will always, always be grateful,” expressed Nikki, reminiscing about her audition for then-ABS-CBN Talent Center. Mr. M took her on a quick tour around the ABS-CBN compound, engaging her in a casual conversation. He asked her to sing as they stopped by the lobby. When they went back to his office, he immediately asked her to sign a three-year contract.
Then, there’s Direk Lauren Dyogi, the current Star Magic Head, who has been genuinely involved in her personal life. When she came home from Canada in 2017, Nikki found solid encouragement and support from Direk Lauren telling her not to worry because they’ll find work for her.
She also acknowledged her ‘teleserye’ dads. With Nikki, her co-artists are more than just taping friends. She builds lasting relationships with them.
In that vein, she has ‘teleserye’ moms-turned-family, too. She mentioned Rio Locsin, who played her mother in a Maalaala Mo Kaya episode. Nikki used to carry an autograph notebook when she was younger and have her co-stars sign it. Rio has her signature on that notebook.
Irma Adlawan, her co-star in A Soldier’s Heart, likewise holds a special place in her heart. She got to know the veteran actress deeper while locked in for the said series at the height of the pandemic. “She’s like so much my mom,” gushed Nikki.
Building solid friendships is one of her secrets for lasting 25 years in showbiz. She acknowledged her BBFs including Jolina Magdangal, her idol-turned-best friend. She said Jolina was like her fairy godmother during the Star Magical Christmas 2022 and one of the reasons she was so emotional.
She also remained connected with Kaye Abad even though the latter is now Cebu-based with husband Paul Jake Castillo. She said Kaye used to drop her off before when she still had no car.
Then there’s Jodi Sta Maria, who she considers her baby sister. Nikki maintained that her friendship with these women thrived through the years because of communication, love, and respect.